New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 26 – Night 5
July 25, 2016
Fukushima Big Pallette

Watch: NJPW World

The A Block is once again center stage for Night 5 of NJPW’s G1 Climax 26. Thus far, the A Block has been far and away the better of the two Blocks, producing numerous memorable matches during the early stages of this year’s G1 Climax. Could they keep up their momentum for Night 5? 

(Note: Due to time-related circumstances, I will only be reviewing the G1 Climax tournament matches for Night 5. Thanks for your understanding)

For spoiler-free recommendations of the top matches from the tournament, head over to Those taking part in the VOW G1 Climax 26 Pick’Em can find updated standings at

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Tomohiro Ishii (0) def. Bad Luck Fale (2)

Put in the unfamiliar position of undersized long shot, Tomohiro Ishii spent a majority of this match unable to mount any sustainable offense on the bigger, more intimidating Bad Luck Fale. The early portions of the match saw Ishii full on throwing his body at Fale only to ricochet back to the mat with Fale merely laughing at this pathetic man’s attempts. Honestly, you would’ve thought Ishii was a Young Buck with the way he was bouncing off Fale, a testament to Ishii’s incredible selling ability. When Fale would get offense going, it was less pro wrestler and more wild bear swinging wildly at his prey. Persistence finally paid off for the Stone Pitbull though as little by little he was able to wear the big man down before finally finishing him off with a great looking brainbuster. ***½

Togi Makabe (4) def. SANADA (2)

One of the more surprising point totals of the early tournament, Togi Makabe comes into Night 5 a perfect 2-0 with 4 points. Many (myself very much included) considered Makabe a complete afterthought in this year’s G1 with a reasonable chance to FINISH with 4 points total. Obviously, we put dirt on his grave a little too soon. On the flip side, SANADA is right where he probably should be at this point with 2 points but showing signs of a bright main event future. We could be talking about G1 Climax 26 being the breakout performance of this future star.

Tonight’s affair was a forgettable performance for each man. SANADA, who has been putting together great performances throughout the tournament spend much of this night taking brutal (in a good way!) Makabe offense. The match never seemed to speed up though and while it had the brutality and pacing of a New Japan match from 10-15 years ago, it seemed out of place in today’s G1 Climax climate. Regardless of what I thought of the “meat” of the match, the finish was pretty awesome as Makabe slammed SANADA’s forehead on the top of the steel turnbuckle post, tossed him to the floor and hit a nasty-looking King Kong Knee Drop for the win. With the win, Makabe moves to a shocking 3-0. **½

Naomichi Marufuji (2) Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4)

The miracle run of Hiroyoshi Tenzan continues to be the most compelling story of this year’s G1 Climax. Crowds are catching on as well as he continues to garner tremendous reactions with Kojima as his hype man—a great touch to the act.

A strong secondary story in this G1 is the emergence (not sure if that’s the right word) of Marufuji. Actually, no, it’s not an emergence, the guy is good, he’s been good and we’re seeing that taken out of the doldrums that is modern day Pro Wrestling NOAH, Marufuji can still go with the best of them. He’s been arguably the best all-around performance thus far and he continued that momentum against Tenzan on this night. This was choppy (again, this is a good thing!) as we’ve seen Marufuji during this G1. Marufuji chopped the hell out of Tenzan with each subsequent chopping ringing louder throughout the Fukushima Big Palette. Though not as bad as Takashi Sugiura, Tenzan’s chest started bleeding which only drove Marufuji to chop him up some more. The story of this match was each and every time Marufuji wanted to put Tenzan away, the craft vet would find one move, one reversal, one counter to keep him alive. My personal favorite saw Tenzan counter an attempted Marufuji kick but headbutting Maru’s knee. Any normal human would be hurt by the whole putting your forehead into someone’s knee thing… but not Tenzan, oh no.

Multiple times throughout the match, Marufuji had a very visible “The fuck do I have to do to put this guy away” reaction to Tenzan’s amazing resiliency. Finally though, Marufuji was too much as a combination of kicks followed by a Shiranui finally put Tenzan away. ****

Tama Tonga (0) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (0)

In what could go down as the most shocking upset of the entire tournament, Tama Tonga—the man who thinks leggings are suitable ring attire—defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi. It’s now clear the story of this G1 will be Tanahashi fighting through injury, doing whatever he can to shake the ring rust off and making a miraculous comeback in the backend of this tournament. Will he win the whole thing? It remains to be seen but he will certainly be in the mix in the final day. On this night, it wasn’t really the injury that did Tanahashi in, Tonga was just smarter and better. The stunning finish came when Tanahashi attempted a High Fly Flow but Tonga got his knees up. In a really cool sequence, Tonga immediately used that momentum to roll Tanahashi up in a pinfall attempt. Still shook from what just happened, Tanahashi—very dazed and confused—ate a Stun Gun from Tonga for the win. The crowd gasped with deafening silence at this win.

A dejected Tanahashi was nearly brought to tears, sitting in the ring alone letting out a huge scream. Obviously frustrated, this should be the nadir or Tanahashi’s G1 plunge. Look for him to start making a huge run now. **¾

Hirooki Goto (4) vs. Kazuchika Okada (2)

This match could go down as one of the biggest disappointments of this entire G1 Climax. There have obviously been worse matches than this one but for a main event spot, with two guys who have had great chemistry in the past, this match was simply two men going through the motions. It’s likely neither man’s fault (though Goto has had an utterly unimpressive G1 so far), this one just didn’t click. A lengthy unimportant control sequence gave way to an exciting but albeit emotionless finishing sequence with Okada reversing a STR attempt into a Tombstone + Rainmaker combo for the win. ***

Final Thoughts:

G1 Climax 26 Night 5 is an unremarkable but newsworthy show. If pressed for time, definitely check out Marufuji vs. Tenzan and Ishii vs. Fale.

Current standings
Block ABlock B
Togi Makabe  6Tomoaki Honma  4
Hirooki Goto4Yuji Nagata4
Hiroyoshi Tenzan4Evil2
Naomichi Marufuji4Katsuhiko Nakajima2
Kazuchika Okada4Yoshi-Hashi2
Sanada2Tetsuya Naito2
Bad Luck Fale2Kenny Omega2
Tomohiro Ishii2Katsuyori Shibata2
Tama Tonga2Michael Elgin0
Hiroshi Tanahashi0Toru Yano0